Friday, September 20, 2013

Abd's comments to my paper: "Everything I knew..."

I am really grateful to my friend and discussions partner, Abd for his extended , positive and wise comments regarding my Synthesis paper published a couple of days ago. For the majoriy of the ideas we are NOT in close agreement. 
I will not comment the comments, however this is my blog and I have the right and duty of the last word. Two remarks:
a) I think Abd has to accept- with time- that if something is bad for technology, it is even worse for science (as unreliability);
b) Abd has no realistic vision based on experience of how strong, how stubbornly,
how difficultly removable the molecules of/from air adhere on solid  matter; he 
misinterprets Defkalion's demo degassing story.

Abd dixit:


(Note- this is a stereotypical title, more exactly almost everything was wrong and not so necessarily what I knew about it)

Aw, gee, you raised my hopes Peter. I know that someone is starting to understand Nature when they say that they don't.

"Wrong" is an idea that we make up, in our thinking, it's not in Nature itself, nor in what actually happens.

We must re-think completely CF/LENR because it has problems and it is very different from how we know it today.

This is true if we recognize "CF/LENR" as a concept. However, Peter's comment would be contradictory to that intepretation because he distinguishes CF/LENR from "how we know it today," i.e., from the concept. So he must mean the phenomenon itself, what actually happens in Nature. And that has no problem at all. It simply is what it is and is not what it is not. Where is the problem? It only appears in us, when we want Nature to be different from what it is.

It is not necessary for us to fall into this trap -- wanting what is not -- in order to be powerful in managing our lives, individually and collectively. Rather, we simply work with what is, instead of making what is into a problem. A *challenge* is not a problem, it's part of a game that we play, a game that, in fact, confers survival value but that is not necessarily aimed toward survival. A limited survival, an increased effectiveness, is a side-effect. I'll state the goal of the gama as Fun, but it could be conceptualized many other ways.

We must re-write radically the history of CF/LENR in order to re-build a good future for it.

Positively, I'd frame this as re-interpreting history. However, my sense is that Peter thinks of this in the exact opposite of what will be effective. Let's see where this goes.

The real cause of all the problems of CF/LENR is that it was discovered BEFORE ITS TIME in the worst system possible, with the less adequate metal.

This is his re-writing, and it is of a kind that, I know from a great deal of experience with people struggling with fundamental issues, will simply perpetuate a trap. There is cogency to some of what Peter is saying. PdD is not the "best system possible," nor necessarily the "most adequate metal," though from some points of view it could be. However, without PdD, there is a very good chance that we might known nothing about LENR. So an ultimate history of cold fusion will demonstrate gratitude that it existed.

And, yes, there were "issues."

 Knowledge and tools missing, CF/LENR was too complex, too new, too unexpected, too messy, too multifaceted, too dynamic, too non-linear and too weird to be really understood and controlled at the time of its discovery. CF/LENR proved to be really at the far right side of the Medawar Zone

I haven't followed that link. PdD was, indeed, complex, messy, non-linear, and I could say weird as well. Yes, we did not know how to control it, and that may still be reasonably asserted, though some may disagree. However, without it, *nothing*. Reminds me of what George Burns said when asked how he felt to be at an advanced age (in his nineties). "Pretty good, considering the alternative."

PdD was great, considering the alternative. That is, the very high loading attainable with PdD was suspected by Pons and Fleischmann to allow a higher fusion rate than expected. They still thought it wouldn't be measurable. But they decided to look, and then saw their experiment melt down. If they had not been extraordinarily lucky, they'd have seen nothing, very likely.

So Nature dropped this gift in their lap, and then they shared it with the rest of us. And now Peter Gluck comes along and is trying to tell us it was some kind of curse.

No, we made it that way, to the extent that it was. We failed to appreciate the reality in front of us, and kept wanting it to be "better."

Once we understand it, we might well make it better, and that process is under way. Good chance NiH will take us into new dimensions. PdD will still be of scientific interest. Peter tries to make this either-or. No, as research opens up, whether with PdD or NiH or something else, all aspects of CMNS will benefit.

The discovery of CF has happened in such unfortunate circumstances that I considered a new word has to be coined for it: “miscovery”

The circumstances were as they were. Labelling them "unfortunate" gives us *nothing.* Basically, we can sit around on the Titanic explaining what is going on, arguing about reality. We can decide whom we prefer to talk with. Maybe we don't like those negative thinkers who say that the ship could sink. Or maybe we dislike those positive thinkers who say it's impossible. A few will just think. They won't jump to conclusions. They will enjoy the Titanic -- fantastic ship, it was -- until the end. And then whether or not they survive may depend *not at all* on what they were thinking the day before.

And whether they survive or not may not matter as much as how they lived their lives. We all die anyway.

The Fleischmann- Pons Cell was the cradle of CF/LENR but it almost became its coffin, and continues to be its bed of Procrustes, limiting its development and making the process almost unmanageable, irreproducible and not scalable..

I see absolutely no sign that PdD or the FP Cell is limiting LENR research. If PdD research had not existed, people would still be skeptical of NiH. Because it does exist, and because some know that PdD cold fusion is real, there is actually increased support for NiH research. Not less.

PdD in some forms is difficult to manage. Not necessarily in all forms. The electrolytic approach is messy, but I could sit down, and within a couple of days at most, be running a Galileo project cell, looking for certain phenomena. It would take me much more time to set up with NiH. However, if someone is new, and wants to take a look for themselves, I might suggest NiH, or, at least, cooperating with the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project. In what way is PdD holding them back? Peter, your thesis is preposterous.

PdD is scalable, any effect is. That's not the problem. The problem is manageability, or what is better called reliability. You can scale it up, all right, but then you might get more than you bargained for, unless you scale up in a very particular way.

What Peter may not realize is that all this is so for NiH as well. We have no reliability data from Rossi, nor from Defkalion. There are indications of poor reliability. There is compensation by having overcapacity and the ability to shut down the reaction, at least with Defkalion.

Reliability is the ultimate issue for a commercial product. PdD appears not to be suitable for a commercial product in the near future, NiH may have a better shot at it. But we don't know.

The connection of CF/LENR with electrochemistry was absolutely fortuitous and does not generate a single advantage for the field; on the contrary, wet systems annihilate the chances of CF/LENR to become an energy technology.

But they do not prevent study of the effect. This is what Peter misses, the value of *scientific research*. He wants *energy!* Great! We will get there, and probably, at least first, through NiH. People started studying NiH early on, but results were spotty and some may have been artifact. However, once PdD opened the door to the possibility of LENR, people started looking in many places that, before, would not have been considered.

And if we simply present what we already know about PdD to gain support for a rigorously convincing confirmation of prior work with PdD, we can blow the whole field open, without waiting for Rossi or Defkalion or someone else to save us. *We have what we need,* that is, we have what is needed to get what we need.

 (functional LENR needs temperatures at which the pressure of water is too high for practical electrolysis). The dominant but false electrochemical model of CF/LENR has defeated the catalytic model.

What "false electrochemical model"? I'm not aware of any "electrochemical model." Electrolysis is a convenient way to generate deuterium, and it does act to increase loading, through surface effects, but there is no major theory of cold fusion that considers electrolysis essential. If seen certain radically premature commercial proposals that used huge assemblies of electrochemical cells. The company proposing that vanished. As could be expected. However, there is a large market for below-boiling hot water, it's used for heating. FP type cells sometimes produce high COP. So if they could be made to reliably do that, it's not impossible. But the big problem isn't that, it's the high cost of palladium and deuterium.

As to the science, we could be and would be proceeding to investigate PdD cold fusion, even if Rossi had not found -- apparently -- a way to increase the output. Rossi and Defkalion are working at much higher temperatures, which could be expected to increase the output. (An increase in XP with temperature is observed with PdD experiments as well, and so high-temperature PdD, gas loaded, could be done.)

The discovery of heat excess in palladium was the most unfortunate event possible,

No, Peter, not so. Not having discovered it would have been, as I would define fortune, less fortunate.

Yes, had it been discovered first with NiH, it could have been *more* fortunate. But, Peter, you are using unnecessary hyperbole to convince yourself of some thesis, a story of how awful reality is. Bad idea. Terrible idea, in fact.

The thinking produces that as a reality, like clockwork. Evidence accumulates, and reality appears worse and worse and worse.

 because due to the very high solubility of deuterium in this metal, the bulk is competing with the active sites for the gas, that leads to the necessity to achieve and maintain high loading D/Pd. We can speak about the Pdisaster of the field.

Peter, that's your idiosyncratic theory. It's rooted in a fact, some gases can poison the reaction, possibly. However, an FP cell is probably self-cleaning as to some of these gases. The idea of the lattice as a competitor is interesting, but .... the fact is that until highly loaded PdD existed, the effect wasn't seen.

The merits of the Founding Fathers are really exceptional and  because the have discovered the phenomenon in pessim circumstances. They were able to see profound connection where nobody has dared to think.

They were brilliant *and* lucky. The brilliance was in understanding that standard, accepted theory was based on approximations that had not been tested. So they decided to test them. They were lucky because if the palladium they used had been ordinary, they would probably have seen nothing.

In the long perspective, in the case of CF/LENR, we were barking not at the wrong tree, we were barking at a dwarf, weakling bush…

A real bush. A representative of a vast array of species of useful plants. If someone imagined that this bush was the only possible plant, yes, they were severely limiting themselves. But it wasn't the fault of the bush! The bush didn't have a problem.

However, because for so many years the conditions and tools
for solving the problem of a commercial LENR based energy source were not discovered or were not available, it is not fair and not justified to speak about errors, the experiments made by the supporters of the field have helped it to survive in conditions of extreme hostility.

That's accurate.

In time we have discovered that there are formidable obstacles on the way to an energy source and the much feared Coulomb Barrier is not the most difficult of those.

It's not "feared." It's simply an established habit of charged nuclei. So what? The issue has always been what forms of tunneling might exist. The "Coulomb Barrier" is no obstacle to experimental investigation of cold fusion. To explore the parameter space of cold fusion requires no calculation or consideration of the Barrier, and, indeed, it would simply be a distraction. Cold fusion, so far, is a chemistry experiment. It does not involve the tools of physics.

Physics only comes in when we try to *explain* it, because the reaction itself is nuclear, not a chemical phenomenon. But making it happen? Only chemistry, at least mostly, so far. Dual laser stimulation at possible phonon frequencies, say 20.5 THz, we might call that physics.

Under the stressing pressure of weak results and due to the impossibility to find an acceptable explanation- both of the results and of the failures the collective orientation in the field became non-optimal:
-         CF/LENR has lost its original, definitory aim (to be a competitive  energy source and claimed to be a promising scientific issue, despite the unreliable and unrepeatable  experimental results;

That was the aim of some people, and it blinded them. It was radically premature. It was only important insofar as the possibility could be used to justify funding of basic research, on the long-shot that it could be made practical.

-         it was more and more suggested that the Scientific  Method alone is able to make us to understand CF/LENR and to solve its problems
Noble ideas, however only strictly controllable/manageable experiments can yield genuinely scientific knowledge and only a hybrid, technological and scientific approach can generate progress. Scientism is damaging for CF/LENR due to its inefficiency.

Peter has made that up. The Scientific Method is a technique for developing solid knowledge. It is not the only way to gain knowledge, but other ways suffer from certain defects that can lead to false imagination being believed. The scientific method as an approach cannot necessarily be applied under all circumstances. In particular, original exploration doesn't have time for the scientific method. It is when something is found by exploration that the scientific method can be applied, and, as well, systematic investigation through controlled experiment can then lead to the development of enough data to be able to develop accurate theory. Theory that can then be used to make engineering more efficient.

I think that Peter, by "Scientism" is referring to some belief that everything must be "proven." No, we proceed based on the preponderance of evidence, or sometimes based on hunches and intuition. Scientism may demand that we stop. Scientism is *not* science. It is not the scientific method. It may *demand* the "scientific method,* but the method itself makes no demands, beyond, perhaps, "don't fool yourself."

Cold fusion is too complex a matter to be left to physicists. More exactly- “to physicists alone” being a really multi-disciplinar and trans-disciplinary issue. Systems thinking and understanding complexity are vital. LENR, I believe, is a movie, not a photo, an opera, not a song- to use ~artistic metaphors.

We don't need physicists at this point in the development of cold fusion. That is, the vast bulk of the work does not use the tools of physics, and the development of theory is probably premature. The demand for theory in the first place was a demand that the chemists probably should have ignored. You could call that "Scientism."

What was needed was more evidence. The original discovery was by chemists, and when they tried to use the tools of physics, they were outside their expertise and made a mistake that, it's easily claimed, would not have been made by any nuclear physicist. So the nuclear physicists mocked them. It was a tactical error, to announce those supposed neutron/gamma results, without having them thoroughly reviewed by physicists. Someone may be able to tell that story, I'll take another look at Taubes. But I don't know if that story was told.

In hindsight, they should have stayed far, far away from any theory involving nuclear physics. It would have been enough for them to admit *failure* to explain their results by chemistry. That would have invited others to attempt the explanation and also fail. Had they emphasized the unreliability of the reaction, as they had it then, it would have been meaningless that inexperienced workers, hastily attempting replication, failed to accomplish it.

We can see these shortcomings now. It's possible that Pons and Fleischmann were fooled by the relative ease with which their material worked. On the other hand, they *knew* that it took months of electrolysis. I don't think they revealed that. Had they been more explicit about necessary conditions, there may have been fewer "failed replications."

Why didn't they reveal these things? It's pretty clear from the history. They were constrained not to reveal details by commercial motives. Those were not their original motives, but they certainly became the motives of the
University of Utah, their employer.

So the LENR field was damaged *from the beginning* by commercial secrecy. And that is a consequence of the whole manner in which society handles innovation, and is a complex legal and social problem. It's an error to blame people for having commercial motives.

But *also* it can cause damage.

Notice: here, Peter is asserting that the entire purpose of the field is energy generation. A commercial motive. PdD work is *mostly*, at this point, not commercial in nature. Some still have dreams of wealth, and, it might be noticed, they don't reveal crucial details of their work.

CF/LENR is oppressed, pariah science due to its bad reputation management in its early period; due to its claim to be fusion it contradicted the ruling theories of the mainstream science.

The claim was premature. However, there was no *established* and *demonstrated* mainstream theory that ruled out fusion. Pons and Fleischmann knew that, but also knew that there was a widespread *impression* to the contrary, so they kept their work secret for five years. That secrecy was not motivated by commercial interest, it was to prevent interference.

When the whole thing broke open because of Jones, much was done in haste that might not have been done had they had more time to reflect. Claiming fusion was not actually reasonable until Miles found the heat/helium correlation in 1991. Pons and Fleischmann did not have that evidence. They had detected helium, but had not correlated it with heat. Their detection was easily dismissed as possible atmospheric contamination.

The experimental results were not sufficiently strong to demonstrate more than the very existence of excess heat release- however at low intensity, scaringly bad reproducibility and for very limited duration, not convincingly enough. The situation is clear- “no mercy”- only a commercial device generating plenty of energy, able to replace the existing sources can change the general opnion about CF/LANR.

Nope. Basically, Peter is limiting the possibilities. I suggest expanding them, because we have no control over the creation of a successful commercial device. By "we," obviously, I'm not including those working on such devices. I'm talking about the rest of us. But we *can* still stand for and cause advancement of this field, with what we already have.

From what we start to learn now, “no mercy” will be equally valid for many, if not all sacred cows and pet memes of CF/LENR. First, palladium will become 4-letter word.

Tell you what. If you have any of that **** lying around, send it to me. I'll take care of it. I'll even pay for the shipping. It might be **** to you, but it would be $$$$ for me.

I have about $700 worth of palladium chloride. I don't mind it at all. It doesn't stink. It keeps getting more valuable, usually.

The field has serious problems due to the fact that the scarce sources are always managed inefficiently; this is the Matthew Effect and CF/LENR suffers due to an external Matthew Effect (being considered bad science gets no funding) and an internal
Matthew Effect (chanceless palladium based systems get the greatest part of the money invested in the field); palladium still remains a cultic metal.

This is ridiculous. My sense is that most research dollars are going into nickel work. At this point, I do not consider PdD research an investment in a commercial sense, it is a general science investment, as many kinds of general scientific research is done without regard for commercial application. Peter is anti-science here. I imagine some politician complaining about scientific research that is, for him, of no practical value. Similar complaints are also made about the arts, and anything not perceived by the narrow-minded as being of little value.

A few personal thoughts

The other wasn't personal thought?

I have concluded relatively early that CF happens similarly to heterogeneous catalysis in small areas- active sites and this explains the great bad problem of the field, irreproducibility.

Peter was looking, in that 2002 paper (
actually 1991, just for the record) , for causes for the erratic behavior of cells. He was brainstorming. We know known much of the cause, though substantial controversy remains. Storms explains it as being due to the nanostructure of the materials, specifically of the surface. The causes listed by Peter all can be problems, but even when those problems were eliminated, those that could be, the difficulty in replication persisted.

Much of what Peter wrote in that article was ahead of his time. However, the theory that surface contaminants, per se, were the problem, would only be true in some cases. I.e., some failures could be due to this or that contamination. The persistent problem wasn't due to that, it is almost certainly due to the material itself. That's why it was so ubiquitous!

It is now known how to manufacture palladium cathodes that are much more likely to produce XP. However, they still don't do so immediately. Something else has to happen. Storms says: cracks. It's plausible.

As I wrote in my message from the right site of the Medawar Zone:
“I personally think that the root of troubles and the start point of the final solution for Cold Fusion is its inherent catalytic nature: all the unexpected and highly desirable phenomena take place in very limited active areas, and the research strategy is to breed and multiply and reinforce and enhance these active areas.”

What Storms calls NAE. I thought that Peter had written this in 1992. I didn't find it in the paper. Regardless, he is, above, saying very much what Storms has been saying, though stated a little differently.

Knowing how disastrous can be poisons for catalysts, I easily deduced that CF functions so faulty because the active sites of CF are also poisoned, blocked by polar gaseous impurities from air.

That was not a deduction, it was an inference, and, while not totally wrong, is off the point. This effect would be, by the way, reproducible.

 Later I have learned that nitrogen and argon are also competing with deuterium/hydrogen for the active sites, so the name of enemy is “alien gases.” Deep degassing or…death!”

Except that electrolytic cells naturally expel those contaminants, and gas-loading work typically does attempt to remove gaseous contaminants. Notice that Defkalion used argon as a control gas, and got major XP with less degassing than they would normally have used. No, Peter, this isn't much of an explanation. Obviously, a concern for possible reaction poisons is essential to this research. But it's not the cause of the truly persistent erratic behavior. The material itself is, almost certainly.

I had plenty of failures in my life, however this was the most unsuccessful idea I ever had. Actually it is nasty and dangerous; in case I am right, then all my colleagues who have rejected it sometimes with contempt due to its triviality and implausibility have made a huge error!
If true, the FP Cell that cannot be degassed (deeply) is sentenced to eternal irreproducibility.

Until it cleans itself. FP cells have constant surface activity, with gases being evolved and leaving the cell. Closed cells are different, and that work often takes substantial measures to purify the materials, (or at least they should!)

I have proposed a strategy for building a good future for LENR:
The main principles are:

LENR is in essence technology, a practical energy source.

Nope. Rather LENR could lead to practical applications that are that. It, itself, is simply a natural phenomenon that arises under certain conditions.

LENR is much more complex, dynamic and diversified as usually accepted now.

"Usually" by whom? Storms lists many forms of LENR. I've been pointing out that the variety of results from CF experiments could indicate that there is more than one kind of reaction. I.e., Jones might be right in what he claims can happen, and only wrong when he claims that Pons and Fleischmann were wrong. Poetic justice, eh?

LENR is now in a deep creative crisis and in a “grow or die” (scale-up or perish) situation

It's not going to perish. It's a natural phenomenon, they don't die. While we *could* forget about it, I rather doubt that. I saw the young people at ICCF-18. There were some worries, for a while, that the senior researchers were dying, and that the field might disappear. That is not going to happen.

LENR has a huge potential as new energy source.

It does. The potential is, as yet, *unproven.* But there are *lots of reasons* to be hopeful. Basically, there are engineering problems to be solved. That can take time. As we get the message of the reality of LENR across, the number of people and the level of resources being applied will increase, possibly exponentially for a while.

I predict that, within a decade, large numbers of physicists will be working on the theoretical problem. If someone solves it, it's a slam-dunk for a Nobel Prize. While some young physicists are timid, not all of them are!

These principles can be understood and applied only after a radical paradigm change in the field.
The critical “to be or not to be” issue is accepting the following:
in the “classic” LENR systems, even if the poisoning problem is solved, the density of the pre-formed active sites remains low and the energy density and production too small for applications.

That is, applications other than scientific research into the effect. With some protocols, they are adequate for that.

New methods have to be found by which the active sites are generated in-situ continuously; thus enhanced excess heat is obtained. This process, called LENR+ can be scaled up and, using good and creative engineering can be transformed in an energy source.

You made up that name. It's just LENR, being set up more skillfully.

LENR+ is the way, the truth and the unique hope because classic LENR systems are lost for technology.

Basically, research techniques and technology improve. But I don't have an Oscilloscope+, and for some purposes an old oscilloscope would be fine. But if I want to capture data at 2 GS/sec, I'll use my Rigol.

LENR is static, LENR+ is dynamic, metaphorically LENR is the caterpillar, LENR+ is the butterfly.

No caterpillars, no butterflies, and butterflies die. An increase in site numbers is not a radical transformation.

However, suppose that Ed is right and the effect is not a lattice effect. Suppose that we create *shapes* that catalyze the reaction, that are stable, suppose the overall structure conducts the heat away rapidly enough that the sites are not destroyed. This material could be reactive at low hydrogen pressure. Peter, if you could create such stuff, I'd be happy to allow you to call it LENR+.

You wouldn't care what it was called, because you would be fabulously wealthy.

But LENR+ is a mode of thinking and it is based on scientific concepts, disciplines and methods very different from those tried, with limited success, for LENR classic.

What Peter is saying is that as increasingly sophisticated technology is applied, progress will arise. But he's not actually describing something revolutionary. It's just normal, as a field matures.

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